Many studies point to the health benefits of probiotic supplements, the “friendly” bacteria in the gut that promote a balanced digestive environment and in turn support healthy digestion, regularity and immune function. To find them in our daily diets, we often look to fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha, but a new study shows the same beneficial microbes can be found in your wine glass.
Researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain recently looked at nearly a dozen strains of bacteria commonly found in wine, including some strains of Lactobacillus (found in yogurt). They discovered that not only could those strains survive exposure to gastric juices and enzymes in our saliva—which can damage bacterial cell walls—but that they did it even better than many commonly used strains.
In addition, the strains of bacteria isolated from wine were shown to be especially good at sticking to the intestinal walls, which means they could help harmful bacteria from entering the gut and potentially damaging our health. One strain in particular (P. pentosaceus CIAL-86) was even able to help protect against harmful E. coli bacteria, the study showed.
However, before you decide that a glass or two of your favorite vintage is all you need to support a healthy, balanced gut, keep in mind that it may not be enough. Much of the good bacteria used in the wine-making process are eliminated during another process called sulfating—during which sulfites are added to help preserve the wine and prevent oxidation. Still, says study author study author Dolores González de Llano, probiotics “could be isolated from wine in order to be commercialized as probiotics, or added to functional foods.”